Think Positively - Reduce Stress and Get More Out of Life
By Roger Ellerton Phd, ISP, CMC, Renewal Technologies Inc. www.renewal.ca
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At one time or another, we all look at the gloomy or negative side of life. This is a natural part of being human. Problems occur when we make negative thinking a way of life.
Studies have shown that being optimistic or pessimistic can affect how long you live and how well you live your life. For example, being optimistic has the potential to:
- Decrease stress.
- Provide greater resistance to catching the common cold.
- Provide a sense of well-being and improved health.
- Improve coping skills.
- Increase life expectancy.
- Make breathing easier for those who have chronic obstructive lung disease, such as emphysema.
- Improve relationships.
- Assist you in achieving what you desire in life.
Ten activities to assist you to think positively and hence get more out of life are:
- Pay attention. An easy task that we do not often do. Start paying attention to your thoughts - what you say to yourself and the corresponding pictures/sounds you have in your mind or feelings in your body. Notice when you are thinking negatively and the impact that this has on you and the people around you.
- Change the way you talk to yourself. See the world in a positive light and feel good about who you are. If you have a voice in your head that keeps telling you that you will fail, change the tone of this voice to something that you find humourous, maybe something like Donald Duck's voice. Then bring in a new voice with a very positive and encouraging tone that supports you in achieving your desires/outcomes. If in your mind, you have pictures of failing; make these pictures small, dark and colourless, while bringing to mind big, bright and colourful pictures that assist you in achieving your desires. If you have a feeling in your body such as a tightening in the pit of your stomach, what would happen if you became playful and massaged this feeling into the shape of a ball that you can kick away and replace with a warm, comforting feeling that permeates your whole body?
- Have a positive outcome for whatever you do. Far too often, we do things with no other desire than to get the task done. Before undertaking an activity, explore how you can make it enjoyable or accomplish something that will make a positive difference in your life. For example, the next time you go for a walk, no matter how long, have a positive outcome that is more than simply going for a walk - an outcome that will challenge you in some way. You may decide to notice and marvel at five things of beauty in nature that you had not seen before or to make connections with at least three strangers by simply saying "hello" and maybe adding "have a great day!" When you set an outcome, make sure that it stretches you in some way and yet is doable. Each time you repeat this or a similar activity, make the outcome you desire bigger or more challenging than before.
- Focus on what you want. Tell yourself and others what you want, not what you don't want. If someone asks, "How are you?", reply with "good" or even better "excellent", while using a tone of voice that shows you mean it. Notice how much better this feels than saying 'Not bad.'
- Be flexible. Recognize what you accomplished. If you did not achieve your desired outcome, be flexible and next time approach it in a different manner (which may mean adjusting your outcome). If you use one key in a lock and it doesn't fit, would you keep using the same key repeatedly? Or would you be flexible and use other keys until you find the one that works?
- Change your physiology. Shuffling along with hunched shoulders is not a positive physiology. If you are sitting, sit up straight and put a smile on your face; if you are walking, walk with a sense of confidence and enjoyment. Let the outside world see how happy you are with your shoulders back, breathing deep and a smile on your face.
- Avoid being a victim. Take responsibility for your actions and your feelings. If in a conversation or interaction with another person, you did not get the outcome you desired; take responsibility for what you have done and how you feel about it. Notice that I did not say to be responsible for the actions or feelings of others; that is their responsibility. Taking responsibility for your actions and the way you feel gives you the opportunity to change things, rather than being a victim.
- Let the past go and forgive. Dragging parts of your past with you only slows you down. And who does not forgiving really hurt? Forgiving others - or yourself - does not mean forgetting or condoning what happened, giving up your values that were violated or assuming you are at fault; nor does it mean condemning the other person or seeking justice or compensation. Forgiveness can be viewed as forgoing the resentment or revenge when the wrongdoer's action deserves it and giving the gifts of mercy, generosity and love when the wrongdoer does not seem to deserve them. To release the shackles of the past, you must be willing to forgive.
- Have a clear outcome for your life, family, career, etc. Select one of these areas. Every morning when you first wake up, picture your desired outcome in your mind with relevant and supporting sounds and feelings. Identify three actions (no matter how big or small) that you will undertake during the day that will move you toward your desired outcome. At the end of each day, review the actions you have taken and their results. If some of the actions you took did not move you closer to achieving your outcome, view this as simply feedback. Use this feedback to determine possible actions for the next day or to modify your outcome.
- Send yourself positive messages. When you first get up and just before going to sleep at night, say the following to yourself with meaning: "Every day in every way, I am getting better and better." Whenever you see a mirror, stop and look at yourself in the mirror and say "You are a wonderfully positive person and I love you dearly."
Enjoy life and its journey!
Author: Roger Ellerton is a certified NLP trainer, certified management consultant and the founder and managing partner of Renewal Technologies. The above article is an extract from his book Live Your Dreams Let Reality Catch Up: NLP and Common Sense for Coaches, Managers and You.
Copyright © 2007, Renewal Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.